Saturday, February 25, 2012

Foreign Favorites: Comanche

Riding on the success of Bernard Prince in Tintin magazine, the team of Hermann and Greg created a new adventure strip in 1971 entitled Comanche. This solid Western story revolved around a beautiful female ranch owner, Comanche, who faithfully ruled over her ranch hands named Red Dust, and his older crotchety sidekick called Ten Gallons. Rounding out the cast was a wise black cowboy, Toby, and a callous youth who often drank too much at Red Dust's feet who went by the moniker, Clem. Well written and meticulously researched, the stories were often overshadowed by Hermann's striking visual style loaded with lavish excessive detail. Trying hard at times to emulate the popular Lieutenant Blueberry, Hermann and Greg could match the realism and skill in draftsmanship, but never quite accomplish the same pace in the narrative. Still no one can argue that Comanche was one of the highlights of the adventure strip genre in the 1970's, so reprints were bound to happen from Belgian's Editions du Lombard in book form soon after its debut.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Bud Sagendorf...In His Own Words

Here is another of my favorite humor cartoonists whose delightful work on Popeye was always a hit with fans...My working habits are quite loose. Some of my fellow cartoonists are able to follow a regular, daily work pattern, but I have never been able to do this. I usually work on ideas and do my penciling in the  mornings and save the inking for the evening. Inking is the mechanical part of the business; so I enjoy half-watching TV while I do it. Any part of my work can be interrupted for something important like golf or bowling. There are about twenty syndicated cartoonists living in my area, and they all enjoy dragging a fellow comic artist away from his drawing board. I hate to admit it but I'm a deadline worker and do my best when my back is against the wall. In respect to ideas, I don't buy gags; I do them myself...with the help of my family. My Son, Brad, is developing into a great idea man. I made the mistake of paying him once for an idea once, and he quickly lost his amateur standing.

I do not like to write out a complete daily continuity too far in advance. When I have a continuity idea I blab an out line into a small tape recorder and file it away until I'm ready for it. The day-to-day strips are done on a weekly basis. I feel that too-tight writing holds me down, and I lose the spontaneous ideas that always pop up when I'm working. As for my background, I started drawing at an early age because it was easier to make pictures than to learn to spell. I was born in Wenatchee, Washington. While I was still in high school I went to work for the late E.C.Segar, the creator of Popeye. I saw the birth of many wonderful characters: Swee' Pea, Eugene the Jeep, Alice the Goon, and Poop-deck Pappy. In recent years I have added Granny and Betty Beasky. After Segar's death in 1938, I was asked by King Features to continue the strip. Except for a period as an assistant comic editor, I have been doing the daily and Sunday Popeye strip ever since.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Direct Currents: The Losers

In November 1969 G.I.Combat #138 introduced another popular DC war title (before landing in Our Fighting Forces #123), a team of four heroes nicknamed "The Losers" due to some unfortunate losses they all suffered at the beginning of their military careers. Captain Storm first command was sunk by a Japanese submarine; brand new recruits were killed on a patrol guided by Gunner and Sarge; and Johnny Cloud lost a fellow pilot flying along side him in combat. After the team brilliantly helped Jeb Stewart and his Haunted Tank destroy a fortified Nazi radar tower, the Military High Command decided to create a new secret special task force, and "The Losers" were born. Sometimes joined by a lovely Norwegian woman named Ona, this special unit fought Axis tyranny throughout Asia and Europe, but never quite shaking there self-imposed feelings of being "Losers". Together with Gunner and Sarge's German Shepard K-9 sidekick, Pooch, this team of heroes fought for truth, justice, and the American way. Often graced with those fantastic Joe Kubert covers and a dynamic collection of Jack Kirby stories made this a favorite with DC's many "Big 5" collectors.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Gold Key Comics...Dagar the Invincible

With the success of Marvel Comics Conan the Barbarian book in 1970, the sword and sorcery craze had officially begun, which encouraged other companies to soon follow including Gold Key's new character, Dagar the Invincible. Created by a team new to Western Publications, writer Don Glut and artist Jesse Santos barbarian mercenary first appeared in Mystery Comics Digest under another name as a one-shot. But as Dagar was just slated to be in another of there anthology books, the editors at Gold Key decided to give him his own title in October of 1972 called Tales of Sword and Sorcery Starring Dagar the Invincible. The first four issues removed around Dagar hunting down an evil wizard named Scorpio who had destroyed his entire clan, and in the process finding his true love, the lovely Graylin. Santos wonderful artwork initially created a handsome hero who fought ghastly monsters, assorted zombies and other supernatural entities. But as his artistic chores grew on other Gold Key titles, producing numerous pages and painted covers, his tighter style considerably loosened to accommodate all the work and the character's good looks. Unusual for a Gold Key comics, Glut like to cross-over his characters to his other series and include inside jokes for Santos to draw, such as the Gold Key logo on shields of warriors or cryptic messages drawn on walls. Lasting eighteen original issues, the series folded in December of 1976 with a few reprints to follow years later before the company ended.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Rafael Gallur's...Mexican Wrestling Covers

Born in Mexico City, Rafael Gallur, who signs his work under the pseudonym Garr, is one of the best know and most popular artists to come out of Mexico in the past few decades. Starting his career as an assistant to famed artist Zotico Fonseca, his first published work appeared in the newspaper, La Prensa. Rafael soon landed in the publishing house Edar, later known as Vid, illustrating numerous comic book titles like Mini Aventuras, Mini Policiaras, and Mini Terror. (Mini being the digest sized format most used in Mexico) Gallur soon started to be noticed for his dynamic covers for the comic company Ejea, drawing the gangster title, Frank Klein, as well as Sangre India, and Poseion Diabolica. All the artist's flashy and often over-the-top covers and pages he produced in the 1970s and 1980s were of many different genres, whether it be Westerns, horror, detective, adventure, erotic, or suspense. But my favorite work of this talented south of the border artist are his painted covers and lushly designed pages he produced for Mexico's wrestling comic titles such as Blue Demon, Sensacionales de Luchas and Arena, just to name a few.


Lucha libre, Spanish for "free fight" has a rich history in Mexico and was basically a regional sport until Salvador Lutteroth founded his Mexican Wrestling Enterprise in 1933 providing a national presence for his colorful matches. But it was not until 1942 when the greatest wrestler of them all, El Santo (The Saint) first stepped into the ring with his distinctive silver mask. With the growth of  television in the 1950s, promoter Lutteroth changed lucha libre from a popular sport into a pop-culture phenomenon, transforming Santo into  a superstar and folk hero to the Mexican people. Comics, movies, and hundreds of new masked luchadors soon followed over the years including Blue Demon, Mil Mascaras, and Huracan Ramirez. The importance of the mask as a symbol has historical significance dating back to the days of the Aztecs and is a mainstay of Mexican wrestling, often providing a theme and the much needed mystique and secrecy for its wrestler. The covers shown here have many of the elements started in the extremely popular El Santos and Blue Demon movies, fighting zombies, weird monsters and a touch of fantasy. Angel Blanco, Blue Panther, Garrmanias, and the Blue Demon are just some of the many heroic fighters that graced the covers by Rafael Gallur in the spectacular wrestling comics he illustrated.